Request Public Records
Records Custodian/Records Officer Contact Information
The language below is an excerpt from Resolution 12-15 pertaining to Public Records Requests. For additional information and definitions, please view the complete Resolution 12-15: A resolution providing for the maintenance, preservation, and protection of public records, and establishing procedures for accessing and copying open public records for the City of White House, Tennessee.
Requests for Public Records
In Tenn. Code Ann. Section 10-7-505(d), the Tennessee General Assembly declares that the Tennessee Public Records Act (hereinafter “TPRA”) “shall be broadly construed so as to give the fullest possible access to public records.” Courts in Tennessee have opined that unless there is a clear exception provided in law, all records of a governmental entity are to be open to citizens for inspection and/or copying. However, these Courts have also acknowledged the ability of records custodians to adopt reasonable rules governing the manner in which records request are to be made and fulfilled.
The Records Custodian and/or the Records Officer in each department shall be the public records request custodian. Pursuant to the TPRA this person(s) will ensure that full access and assistance is given in a timely and efficient manner to Tennessee residents who request access to public documents in accords with the public records retention schedule as provided in the most current MTAS publication Records Management for Municipal Government. (The only time a non-Tennessee resident’s request for a public record shall be granted is if the requestor was involved in a traffic crash or was a victim of a crime in which a City of White House Police Officer took a report.)
The City of White House maintains a public web site and uses various methods of social media to provide some public records. Records Custodians are encouraged to use these means to post often requested records and to direct requestors to these records. However, Records Custodians are cautioned not to disclose matters protected by state law as confidential. Also, a requestor may still exercise the right to inspect the public record following the procedures below.
All municipal records shall, at all times during normal business hours, as set by the City Administrator, be open for personal inspection by any citizen of this State, and those in charge of the records shall not refuse such right of inspection to any citizen, unless otherwise provided by state law.
City employees shall direct all requests of public records to the Records Custodian/Records Officer of their department.
Requests for personnel records shall be made to the Human Resources Director. If the personnel record requested is for a police officer, the Human Resources Director will promptly notify the Police Chief, as well as the officer whose record was requested. The Police Chief shall make the final determination as to the release of the information requested. In the event that the Police Chief refuses to release the information, he/she shall provide a written explanation of the reasons for not releasing the information.
Requests for Viewing
The Records Custodian/Records Officer may not require a written request or assess a charge to view in person a public record unless otherwise required by law. The Records Custodian/Records Officer shall require any citizen making a request to view a public record to present photo identification, if the person possesses photo identification, issued by a governmental entity that includes the person’s address. If a person does not possess photo identification, the Records Custodian/Records Officer shall require another acceptable form of identification T.C.A. 10-7-503 (a), (7), (A).
The Records Custodian and/or Records Officer shall promptly make available for inspection any public record not specifically exempt from disclosure. Any request for inspection or copying of a public record shall be sufficiently detailed to enable the Records Custodian/Records Officer to identify the specific records to be located or copied T.C.A. 10-7-503 (a), (7), (B).
All inspections of public records must be performed under the supervision of the Records Custodian or designee. Confidential information or exempt information should be redacted prior to inspection or copying.
In the event it is not practical for the record(s) to be promptly available for inspection, the Records Custodian/Records Officer shall within seven (7) business days:
Make the information available to the requestor – for inspection only the Records Custodian/Records Officer will use the Inspection/Duplication of Records Request and follow the instructions listed at the top for “Custodian Instructions.”
Deny the request in writing using the Records Request Denial Letter – the Records Custodian/Records Officer shall include the basis for the denial. If the request is denied because the Records Custodian/Records Officer is not the holder of the records requested then the Records Custodian/Records Officer should make the requestor aware of the appropriate Records Custodian (if known) whenever possible. The statutory time frame is not triggered until the request is made by the requestor to the appropriate records custodian.
Furnish the requestor a Records Production Letter stating the time reasonably necessary to produce the record or information T.C.A. 10-7-503 (a), (2), (B).
Requests for Copies or Duplication
If the requestor is requesting a copy(s) of public records the Inspection/Duplication of Records Request form shall be given to each requestor of public records by the Records Custodian/Records Officer. The requestor is to follow the instructions at the top of the form “Requestor Instructions.” This would include filling in their name; presenting photo identification issued by a governmental entity, to verify Tennessee residency; address and contact information; indicating what type of request; and identifying the record’s requested.
The Records Custodian/Records Officer should follow the instructions listed at the top of the Inspection/Duplication of Records Request form “Custodian Instructions” in reference to copies and duplications.
The Records Custodian/Records Officer should make every effort in large-volume requests to provide electronically to utilize the most cost effective method of producing records.
Whenever a record is redacted, the requestor should be provided the basis for the redaction.
After providing what is thought to be all records responsive to a public records request a records custodian discovers that records were omitted, the requestor should be made aware of the omission and the records produced.
If after requesting clarification on a records request and the records custodian is unable to determine what is being requested, the request should be denied.
If the public records requested are frail due to age or other conditions and copying of the records would cause damage to the original records, the requesting party may be required to make an appointment for inspection.
A records custodian must provide requestors with an estimate of the charges to be assesses for copies and labor. Whenever possible, the records custodian should provide the estimate prior to producing the requested copies of records and should itemize the estimate. This can be documented on the Inspection/Duplication of Records Request form.
Records custodians should require and receive either full or partial payment of the estimated charges prior to production of copies of the requested records. Payment must be in cash, money order, or check.
Charges for physical copies of records, in accordance with the Office of Open Records Counsel schedule of reasonable charges, are as follow:
- $0.15 per page copied for black and white copies.
- $0.50 per page copied for colored copies.
- $0.15 per page copied for traffic crash reports.
- Maps, plans electronic data, audio discs, video discs, and all other materials shall be duplicated at actual costs to the city.
Labor in excess of one hour may be charged by the city, in addition to the cost per page copied. The city may require payment in advance of producing voluminous records. Requests for copies of records may not be broken down into multiple requests for the same information in order to qualify for the first free hour. For a request requiring more than one employee to complete, labor charges will be assessed based on the following formula:
In calculating the charge for labor, a department head shall determine the number of hours each employee spent producing a request. The department head shall then subtract the one (1) hour threshold from the number of hours the highest paid employee(s) spent producing the request. The department head will then multiply the total number of hours to be charged for the labor of each employee by that employee’s hourly wage. Finally, the department head will add together the totals for all employees involved in the request and that will be the total amount of labor that can be charged.